Advocating for You - July, 2019

The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce advocates for its membership in Missouri, Kansas, Washington, D.C., and local government. Below are the highlights of activity in July.


Chamber Signs onto USMCA Ratification Letter: In June, Mexico became the first country to ratify the USMCA, or new NAFTA, agreement. In light of inaction from Congress, the KC Chamber, signed on to a letter, along with hundreds of other companies, associations and chambers of commerce throughout the country, to encourage the ratification of the USMCA Agreement. Ratification would authorize important changes to modernize the rules for trade in North America with respect to market access, digital trade, intellectual property, agriculture, and financial services. Last year the KC Chamber coordinated with fellow city and regional chambers in submitting a letter to the Missouri and Kansas congressional delegations urging the need to ratify the new USMCA provisions. In 2016, Kansas saw 36 percent of its exports, totaling $3.7 billion, go to NAFTA trading partners and Missouri had over half of the state’s exports, totaling $7.8 billion, reach our NAFTA partners. Across both states, jobs are created, economic growth is boosted, and local economies are strengthened in large part as a result of trading with Canada and Mexico.

Chamber Assists Congresswoman Davids in Census Hearing: In late June, the U.S. House of Representatives Small Business Committee held a hearing on the importance of an accurate and complete count for the upcoming 2020 Census. The KC Chamber was honored to assist Congresswoman Sharice Davids in identifying key reasons the Census is critical for businesses in Kansas City. Use this link to see Congresswoman Davids and hear her recognize the KC Chamber for assisting. The KC Chamber recognizes a complete and accurate 2020 Census is critical to ensure proper federal funding of programs like education, transportation and workforce development while also maintaining Missouri's and Kansas’ representation in Congress.


Major Missouri Metros Convening: Earlier this month, KC Chamber staff and two board members participated in a summer planning meeting with the St. Louis Chamber, Springfield Chamber and the Missouri State Chamber to reflect upon the 2019 General Assembly session and look ahead at issues for 2020. Also present were the Speaker of the House Elijah Haahr, Senate Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden, Governor Mike Parson’s Chief of Staff Aaron Willard, and Department of Economic Development Director Rob Dixon. Willard touted the KC Chamber and the Kansas City advocacy team on the region’s lobbying efforts and focus this year especially with workforce development and transportation. The KC Chamber is looking forward to continuing this collaboration with our peer chambers in Missouri to advocate for common issues in the state.


Meet in the Middle-Lindsborg, KS: The KC Chamber traveled to Lindsborg, KS this month to take part in a convening of urban and rural legislators, city and county governments, and other economic interest groups to learn about issues that are impacting rural Kansas and the state as a whole. The event of about 150 people was coordinated by Representatives Steve Johnson and Jason Probst and included former Kansas State Senator David Adkins, now of The Council of State Governments, various legislators, and rural economic development leaders. The KC Chamber was the only chamber of commerce represented at this event. This unique gathering was a great opportunity to learn and identify common issues that are facing rural and urban Kansans, alike, by discussing topics ranging from agriculture, to healthcare, to workforce development, and immigrants’ contributions to Kansas’ economy.

Kansas/Missouri Planning for 2020 Legislative Sessions: Similar to last year, KC Chamber staff will be sending out a questionnaire for Public Policy Council and Kansas and Missouri State Affairs Committee members to fill out and identify key priorities for the upcoming 2020 legislative sessions. Please be on the lookout for this survey that will be sent out in late August or very early September. Further meeting instructions will be sent out at a later date.


Findings of the City’s Pension Task Force: At its July meeting, the Kansas City Missouri Business Leadership Council (KCMOBLC) heard a preview of Kansas City’s Pension Task Force’s recommendations from task force Chair, Herb Kohn, Partner at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP. The recommendations include various fixes to the current plan that include reducing vesting pension terms to 5 years and adjusting the COLA down for all pensioners and current city employees. The official recommendations will be reported on the City Clerk’s website on August 28, 2019. This task force, appointed by Mayor Sly James, was put in place to explore the financial stability of the various pension programs for police, firefighters, and city employees.   
Perspectives on new City Council: KCMOBLC also invited Council-Member Elect Kevin O’Neill to share his perspectives on the new City Council. O’Neill, who was a reporter and columnist for the Labor Beacon Newspaper prior to joining the City Council, said he is hopeful the new city leadership will let him focus on equitable labor at the airport, tax incentive reform, and infrastructure repairs.